North Georgia’s Top Bass Waters – How and Where To Catch North Georgia Bass
Ask a bass fisherman which month of the year is best and the response is likely to be “April.” April is a dream month for bass fishing in the north half of our state. The weather is comfortable and fairly stable for you and the bass are shallow, feeding and looking for bedding areas.
You have a wide variety of big lakes to fish north of Macon and you can catch largemouth and spotted bass in many of them. No matter which lake you choose, from the South Carolina line to our border with Alabama, you can catch bass several different ways. And you have a good shot at catching a wall hanger as well as filling up your livewell with keepers.
Pick any of the following lakes, give the suggested tactics a try and you will love April fishing even more.
Called Clarks Hill by Georgia fishermen, Thurmond on the Savannah River is our biggest lake at 72,000 acres. Georgia fishermen love it. The Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Creel Census Report shows it as the most popular lake for Georgia bass club tournaments year after year.
Jon Hair grew up fishing Clarks Hill and landed a dream job as the office manager for Buckeye Lures. He gets to fish Clarks Hill a lot and does well in tournaments there. Last April he and his partner won the Easter Seals tournament in April with a five bass limit weighing 20.10 pounds.
“You can catch bass pre-spawn, on the bed and post spawn during the month of April,” Jon said. He concentrates his fishing on the Savanna River side of the lake due to current there when the Corps of Engineers is generating power and the water is usually clearer.
Early in the month Jon will throw a Carolina rigged green pumpkin Zoom lizard with a chartreuse tail on secondary points and gravel banks going into coves. Bass are on them looking for bedding spots and will eat the lizard or a three-eights to one-half ounce brown Buckeye Mop Jig with a green pumpkin trailer. Both are dragged on the gravel bottoms and the jig can be hopped for added action.
When bass are on the bed Jon will sight fish for them and throw a Spot Remover jig head with a Zoom Trick worm into the beds. The Spot Remover head will make the worm stand up in the bed and drive the bass crazy.
Later in the month the blueback herring spawn on gravel beds on the main lake, mostly in “blow-throughs,” shallow areas between the bank and off shore islands and humps. Early in the morning Jon will throw a JWill Swimbait Head with a Zoom Super Fluke, a topwater bait like a Sammy or a Gunfish and a weightless Fluke around those area. As the sun gets high he will fish a little deeper with a Mop Jig, working the same areas.
Lake Lanier is well known for its huge spotted bass. Our second biggest lake at 40,000 acres located just outside Atlanta, it is a very heavily used lake by pleasure boaters and fishermen. But the spots are there and you can catch them this month. If you want a wall hanger spot Lanier is a good place to land it and April is a good month to get it.
Eric Aldrich lives near Lanier and fishes tournaments on it almost every week, as well as doing some guiding there. He writes fishing reports for three local newspapers and is on the pro staff for Hummingbird, SPRO, Gamakatsu, and Tru Tungsten. He and his partner finished 4th in the Boating Atlanta trail on Lanier last year.
A seven pound one ounce spotted bass is Eric’s personal record from Lanier and he has also landed a 10 pound largemouth on the lake. His best five fish catch was five spots weighing just over 30 pounds.
“Big spots are in a pre-spawn pattern much of April, with a good many going on the bed during the month,” Eric said. You can catch them on secondary points and in pockets with flats where they bed all during the month and the main lake and creeks below Brown’s Bridge are the best areas.
A couple of baits will cover what you need. Eric will keep a Spro McRip or McStick jerk bait rigged on one rod and a Spot Remover jig head with a Big Bait Finesse Worm on it on a second rod. His targeted depth is five to 20 feet, but he says you will catch a lot of big spots at the upper end of that range.
“Look for cover like rocks on points and docks back in pockets with flats,” Eric said. Throw a jerk bait on the points and around the docks first for active fish. Try a variety of retrieves, from a steady jerking motion to a jerk, pause, jerk. Let the fish tell you what they want.
Then throw the jig head worm around the same areas for fish that don’t want to come up to hit the jerk bait. Work it slowly on the bottom, giving the Spot Remover jig head time to sit and hold the worm up, its signature action. Then hop it, let it fall back and sit again. Big spots can’t stand that action.
Also, watch for beds and throw the jig head worm into them. Remember that spots often bed in five to ten feet of water, so look deep. Spots are usually aggressive on the beds and you can sight fish and land some big spots in April.
Lake Oconee is one of our newer lakes located on the Oconee River right in the middle of the north half of the state. It is a popular lake with lots of big house and golf courses, but the fishing for largemouth is outstanding. Georgia Power has a several good ramps on the lake and two campgrounds give fishermen a chance to stay on the lake and fish for several days.
Roger McKee has fished Oconee since 1985 and lived on the lake since 1995. He is on the lake almost every day checking out the bass and guiding other fishermen. He fishes most tournaments on the lake and does well in them.
In April there is no better lake for largemouth fishing than Oconee in north Georgia. Bass are shallow for their spawn as well as taking advantage of the shad spawn. Numerous sea walls and lots of riprap give the shad many places to lay their eggs. And numerous pockets and small creeks offer bass excellent bedding areas.
Roger likes to fish fast in April, looking for post spawn fish that were on the beds in late March, as well as pre spawn fish still looking for a bedding spot. The stained water at Oconee makes sight fishing difficult so sight fishing for bass on the bed is hard to do, but it can produce some big fish.
“Tie on a bait that will cover water and get a reaction strike,” Roger said. He will have a spinnerbait and a crankbait tied on two rods and those are his key baits. Roger said he would depend on the crankbait when covering water and would throw it on points and banks going into spawning areas, fishing it fast so the bass don’t get a good look at it.
Bass fishing doesn’t get any better than when the shad spawn on Oconee. You can see the schools of shad running the seawalls and riprap banks early in the morning in April, especially the last half the month.
Tie on a double willow leaf three eights ounce spinnerbait with silver blades and a white skirt and throw it right against the seawalls and on the riprap rocks on the main lake. You can’t cast too shallow so get your bait against the wall or right on the rocks out of the water. Expect a strike as soon as the bait hits the water, but fish it back to five feet deep or so before reeling in to make another cast.
You can contact Roger for a guide trip through his website at http://lakeoconeesinclairguideservices.com/.
If you want a record spot, a trip to Carters Lake might produce it. Carters Lake is a Corps of Engineers lake in northwest Georgia east of Dalton and I-75. At 3220 acres, Carter’s is a fairly small lake. There is no shoreline development other than a few boat ramps and a marina, so fishing Carter’s gives you a natural setting.
Louie Bartenfield grew up around Carter’s Lake and he and his father fished it often, with good success. His father has landed three largemouth weighing over 10 pounds at Carter’s, and Louie learned from him. They fished tournaments together for a year or so then Louie teamed up with family friend Tony Hill.
Now Louie concentrated mainly on the big spots in Carters that have come on strong over the past few years. He is a well known guide and tournament fisherman on Carters and he catches some huge spots there every year.
Since spots on Carters spawn late in April or in May, Louie will be looking for fish on a main lake pattern. There is also a good creek pattern that develops as the fish move into the creeks and both patterns work most of April.
“An easy pattern on Carters in April is to fish the alewife spawn,” Louie said. Many people don’t realize there is big population of alewife in the lake. Unlike blueback herring, which are also in the lake, alewife spawn during the night. As the sun comes up they pull out off the main lake spawning area and suspend 10 to 12 feet down. Louie says you can see huge schools of them on your depthfinder.
To catch the big spots feeding on them Louie will tie on a big War Eagle three-quarters ounce white spinnerbait with two silver willowleaf blades. He will get way off main lake points and humps and make as long a cast as he can toward the bank. Slow roll the spinnerbait back to the boat in a steady retrieve, making it run down 12 to 14 feet deep where the big spots are holding under the alewife.
This pattern is best in the mornings and some wind helps. Wind breaks up the water surface and makes it harder for the bass to see the bait, and they are more likely to hit it in the very clear water. Louie will fish this pattern all morning, or until the bite fades.
“Everyone loves catching bass on top, and in the middle of the day there is a fun pattern that anybody can enjoy,” Louie said. He will go into the creeks on the lake and throw a small topwater bait like a Pop-R under overhanging brush and trees, working any shade he can find. The sun concentrates bass in the shade and they will hit the topwater bait all day long.
To contact Louie check out his website at http://carterslakeguideservice.com/. There are pictures there of some of the huge spots he catches as well as videos of some April fishing trips.
West Point Lake
West Point Lake on the Georgia Alabama line is a great lake for both spotted bass and largemouth. A Corp of Engineers Lake with 25,900 acres of water and 525 miles of shoreline, fishing opportunities are varied and you can find any kind of cover and structure you desire. A huge range of methods work during April, from sight fishing for bedding bass to working the shad spawn.
Last April in a club tournament I started on a gravel point near the dam back in a big creek and hooked seven bass on the first casts seven casts I made. I landed five of those bass and had a limit in the livewell in 12 minutes. All hit a Sammy worked across a couple of feet of water. Although I culled four of those first five bass, that fast action was fun.
Early in the morning bass are looking for shad spawning during April, especially later in the month. Find any hard bottom like gravel points and riprap and you will find bass. Throw a spinnerbait or topwater bait near the hard bottom and you will catch bass.
As the sun gets high later in the month, or early in the month before the shad spawn, throw a jig head worm on points leading into small spawning pockets or on secondary points back in the bigger pockets. Work any cover you can find from wood to rocks in two to ten feet of water, bumping the worm through the cover. That is how I culled four fish in the tournament last April.
I like the lower lake, from Wehadkee Creek to the dam, including the big creeks like Wehadkee, since the water is usually more stable and clearer.
Try these lakes this month. You can’t go wrong anywhere you go in April, but these tips should help you get on the fish quickly and catch a lot of bass.